Some unscrupulous people used to request wheelchair assistance at the airport when they didn’t need it and use their ‘injury’ to get earlier boarding of their flight. They’d have access to overhead bin space before other passengers were forced to check their bags. On Southwest they’d have their choice of seats on board. And flying basic economy on United they might get a free carry on bag, since the carry on bag ban is enforced as part of the boarding process.
Right now though there are very few people at the airport to help push wheelchairs so this is tough to do, and would be all sorts of awful because it currently really does make it hard for people that need assistance to get it.
However people are still faking injuries to make their travel experience a bit smoother, or at least cut lines. TSA security checkpoint wait times can be long, without enough screeners and with travel really picking up. And since it’s almost all leisure travel, the people in front of you in line have hidden metal everywhere on their bodies and don’t know what has to come out and off.
One man on TikTok shows how he fakes an injury to get priority screening from the TSA and then assistance through the airport.
Hopefully everyone reading this site has access to TSA PreCheck (perhaps through Global Entry or through the PreCheck program directly), perhaps has signed up for CLEAR, or has strategies to avoid the long lines. Be situationally aware about lines at various different checkpoints – some airports have many, and lines may be shorter if you walk to the next one. Just don’t do this.